The proverb, attributed to the Persian Sufi poets, has long been used to comfort those in misfortune or loss. May we apply it to beaches, too? Please?
I ask because yet another beach replenishment project is in the news. A recent proposal would give the National Park Service the option of using dredge sand to fight erosion on North Carolina's Shackleford Banks, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Among those against the plan are Orrin Pilkey, a geology professor emeritus at Duke University who has long been an authoritative voice against replenishment projects. I'm on his side.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been dumping sand on eroded beaches for many years, usually at the behest of property owners or local and state governments that face financial loss when the natural beach takes its natural course. So far, the National Park Service has never used dredge sand on a wilderness area such as Shackleford.
I don't believe it should start now. It's time instead to stop the insanity of fighting nature, not only in wilderness areas but also in populated and developed places. People who love beaches need to get a grip: The beaches are eternally impermanent. This too shall pass.
Loving a beach is different from loving your family, your dog or even your new car. The nature of a beach is constant change, so it can't be protected in the same way, even when it becomes someone's property. That's why it's not a good idea to even try to "own" a beach. It's going to go its own way no matter how much you want to keep it right here, just like this. This too shall pass.
I am soon heading to "my" beach on North Caicos Island. I look forward to seeing it again, in part because I know it won't look exactly the same as it did when I last left it. It will be smaller, or bigger, or rockier, or smoother, or curved differently. I will love it no matter what, and I'll know that however it looks will continue to change.
Constant change. Eternal impermanence. Oxymorons that describe the essential paradox of a beach.
"This too shall pass." It doesn't come from the Bible or the Koran, but it is a spiritual truth. And a natural one.